What is disco? If you're simply thinking of a genre of music popular in the 70s responsible for innovative dance tracks such as "Disco Duck," well, I hate to break it to you, but you're wrong and your ignorance embarrasses me.
Disco is actually a state of mind. According to a Los Angeles-based event planner named Courtney Nichols, disco is "the fullest expression of living. Disco is color. It is persuasiveness through movement. It is uncontrollable pleasure. It is an ever-evolving time capsule of each generation's most decadent. Disco is something to be envious of."
Nichols imagines disco as something more than just John Travolta in a white suit doing that finger-pointing dance. As the founderof FruitFlyLife (which she describes as "an online media outlet focused on emerging subcultures"), Nichols is so passionate about disco that she started something called the Disco Dining Club. For an entry fee of $80 this event promises an open bar, unlimited oysters, and disco DJs, and also guarantees there will be no bathroom attendant (good for anyone looking to steal toilet paper).
I attended the second-ever Disco Dining Club at Eyeboogie Studios in downtown Los Angeles to see if I could, in fact, be envious of disco.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived was a framed picture of Tupac (godfather of disco) as well as light bulbs dangling from a kayak on the ceiling. Two large tables were decorated with candles, oversized ceramic mugs, and flowers. Oyster shells with name cards on them were placed at every seat. Salad was served to guests in Chinese take-out boxes as they walked in. I wasn't feeling a disco club vibe as much as I suspected that I might have accidentally crashed a wedding sponsored by Pinterest.
Naturally, the first thing I did was wait in line to get some liquor. Meanwhile, servers walked around, handing me finger foods such as small pieces of sausage and halibut ceviche.
I was clearly out of place. Everyone at this event seemed to know one another, and few dressed up in disco-themed attire. Most of the women wore cocktail dresses, and most of the men donned their finest pair of skinny jeans matched with a well-groomed beard. These did not look like people who worried about spending $80 for a dinner party. I felt like the only person in the room who could tell you whether or not the 99-cent store sells roach poison. (It does.)
After getting my drink, I sat down at one of the tables and saw that the assigned seating rule was more of a polite suggestion. A DJ started playing hot disco tracks, but the dance party had yet to start. Turkey schnitzel sliders were placed on the table along with pretzel bread sticks. More servers hounded me with sausage and ceviche. It was starting to feel like I was at my mother's house for Passover dinner, but unlike my mother, these servers weren't berating me for eating so much after encouraging me to eat so much.
My biggest challenge was the oysters, which I had never consumed before. I grabbed two, and did my best to imitate what the classy people were doing. I watched them squeeze some lemon into it, then put the shell to their mouth and inhale. The meat looked like a loogie, but I powered through, figuring that a food with such a decadent reputation must taste better than it looks. I was wrong. Regardless, I grabbed even more and begrudgingly shoved them down my throat, knowing I would most likely never have the opportunity to eat so many oysters in one night again.
About two hours into the event, Courtney took to the center of the dining hall to give a speech. She said all that stuff about disco being color, and persuasiveness. She then mentioned that there were free poppers on every table. (Not the sex shop kind.) One very drunk man wearing an orange jumpsuit interrupted this part of Courtney's speech to yell at another guy who purportedly stole all the poppers. This inebriated, loud man was the embodiment of everything I hate about disco, and I loved him for it.
After the speech, we were promised a burlesque show. You're probably wondering, Does burlesque have anything to do with disco? The answer to that is no.
The burlesque show consisted of one woman dancing around for two minutes, then showing us her mostly bare breasts adorned with nothing but nipple tassles. The popper-deprived, orange jumpsuit-clad drunk man loudly hollered at the dancer in a way I greatly admired, elevating me from severely bored to slightly amused.
After the burlesque, the dance party had officially begun. A second DJ arrived to play more of the same disco. A handful of people started dancing, and I continued drinking. But after a solid hour of sitting around and waiting for something exciting to happen, I decided to call it a night and go home.
Did the Disco Dining Club turn me into a disco fanatic? Nope. I was not persuaded by its movement, nor did I see its color. I did not experience uncontrollable pleasure, and was only envious of the guy who stole all the poppers. Then again, I did get to eat a lot of food and drink copious amounts of alcohol. That merits a successful night in my book.
I do think there is potential for the Disco Dining Club. When more people catch on to it, and the price of attendance is lowered, this could actually be the hedonist disco extravaganza of the century.
In the meantime, I'll take my quaint dinner parties without nipple tassels, thank you.